To many, Danny Brown is known as the father of Elsies River.Come rain or shine, he makes it his daily mission to uplift the community whether it be by helping the elderly or by doing motivational talks at schools in the area.The 76-year-old is one of three finalists in the 70 to 80 years category of this year’s Community Champions Elders Awards. The awards are presented by TygerBurger, People’s Post and City Vision in partnership with Spec-Savers. Because so many people live in darkness, Brown says he is determined to be the “light” in people’s lives. “I’m passionate about giving back to my community because this is where I grew up and also raised my children. Every Monday and Wednesday, we provide the elderly with coffee and meals at the Elsies River multi-purpose centre. To make it fun, we also have sports days and social dances for the elderly,” says Brown, who is also passionate about athletics. “Some of our people live in darkness in their homes, and in this safe space, I aim to be the light in their life.”He arranges for sandwiches to be distributed to Clarke Estate as well, where he says he engages with the community including troubled youth who face challenges. “Schools invite me to speak to the learners who face disciplinary hearings and also to do motivational talks with learners. I also speak to the young boys who want to join (gangs), and encourage them that there is more to life. They just need to look for the light and remain level-headed. One of the things I believe in is discipline.”Brown is also president of the Elsies River Athletics Club. The sport is something he has always been passionate about. His secret, to still be “on the go”, he says, is as a result of his healthy lifestyle. “I have never smoked nor had a sip of alcohol in my life. “For the past 43 years, one of my biggest commitments was running. This is something I don’t only do for my health, but my mind and spirit too.”Through his journey in athletics, Brown learned that a big lack in the community is sporting facilities.“In 1963 (at the age of 20), we started the athletics club to encourage youngsters to focus on their mental and physical health. There are about 50 athletes in the club and they participate in road running, marathons and cross country.”He explains why it’s important for him to give back: “When I see people, I want to give them hope. “I’m always an ear and always available for anyone who needs to talk, or someone who just wants to be uplifted. We always need to show each other love.”Francis Olivier (81) says Brown has been “an angel” to her for the past five years: “He’s always helping me get around and is such a lovely and friendly man.”Goodwood resident, Roseline Marinus, says she’s known Brown for the past 50 years: “He has always been a man for the community, doing good and giving back. He plays the role of father-figure to many of the youth in Elsies River, even those who want to become gangsters. We are blessed to have a man like him set an nature.”V The winners of the awards will be announced at a morning tea on 12 October in Cape Town. Winners and runners-up will walk away with Shoprite vouchers and other prizes sponsored by TygerBurger, People’s Post, City Vision and Spec-Savers.